Posted on 05 September 2023
Feeling adventurous? The best glacier skiing in Europe, through icy terrains and untouched powdery slopes in mountainous regions, is the most perfect and extraordinary holiday. Glacier skiing refers to skiing on glaciers. Glaciers are large, slow-moving masses of ice and snow that form in areas where more snow accumulates in winter than melts in summer. They are typically found at high altitudes throughout Europe.
Glacier ski resorts in Europe are popular among skiers and snowboarders because glaciers offer unique environments. For our clients looking at ski property as somewhere to live for most of the year, glacier skiing is often a priority. One advantage is that it extends the skiing season beyond the typical winter months. Glacier ski resorts often operate during summer when most other alternatives are closed.
Glacier skiing terrain in Europe varies widely, from gentle slopes suitable for beginners to challenging and steep runs for advanced skiers. The glacial environment also means you can encounter crevasses, ice formations, and other unique features. Glacier skiing is fantastic, especially in the early morning when the snow is firm and groomed. With that in mind, let’s look at the best European glaciers for skiing and where to find them.
Best Glacier Skiing in Europe
1: Zermatt in Switzerland – King of Europe
Zermatt is one glacier ski resort in the Swiss Alps that testifies to nature’s grandeur. This Alpine gem is renowned not only for picturesque landscapes but also for exceptional glacier skiing. Zermatt boasts the incredible Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, Europe’s highest gondola at 3,883 meters (12,739 feet). This heavenly vantage point opens up different worlds.
Zermatt offers 360 kilometres (223 miles) of pistes for beginners and experts to relish the slopes. The extensive ski area connects Zermatt with Italy’s Cervinia-Valtournenche, forming one of the world’s most significant international ski domains, the “Matterhorn Ski Paradise.”
While most ski resorts close during summer, Zermatt’s glacier skiing season is virtually year-round. Skiing in Zermatt can start in early November and continue until April. Then, during summer, you can still carve through the snow and ice, experiencing the thrill of skiing in July and August.
The Theodul Glacier, boasting an elevation of 3,389 meters, is where the real glacier skiing magic happens. With over 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) of ski runs, including breathtaking descents and, this glacier caters to everyone seeking adrenaline-packed adventures. As you glide down the slopes, the Matterhorn, one of the world’s most iconic mountains, looms majestically. To reach Zermatt, the closest airports are Geneva or Zurich, unless you have a private jet, in which case use Sion.
2: The Skiable Glacier of Tignes in the French Alps
Tignes Val Claret, in the Espace Killy area, beckons skiing enthusiasts from around the globe with fresh snow and incredible views. One captivating feature is glacier skiing, offering blended natural beauty and exhilarating winter sports.
At the heart of Tignes’ glacier skiing experience lies the Grande Motte Glacier, an impressive ice sheet at 3,656 meters. This glacier serves as the epicentre of skiing activities in Tignes and provides an extended skiing season. Tignes’s exceptionally long ski season is thanks to Grande Motte Glacier. The skiing season often extends from late September to early May, offering nearly year-round opportunities for skiing.
Expect access to approximately 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) of ski runs with natural snow. With slopes catering from beginners to experts, the high-altitude and snow consistency make Tignes reliable for skiing. As you descend the glacier’s slopes, expect breathtaking French Alps vistas, including the iconic Mont Blanc. The scenery and lake alone are worth the visit.
Tignes isn’t just about groomed runs. Explore off-piste and freeride terrain under the watchful eye of local guides, providing thrilling experiences for adrenaline rushes and plenty of snow. Tignes prides itself on its state-of-the-art lift systems that ensure minimal wait times. Promising unforgettable Alpine experiences for both seasoned skiers and first-timers, Tignes is easily reached through the primary airport of Chamberry. (Learn more about Tignes in France.)
3: The snow cover of Les Deux Alpes in France
Les Deux Alpes offers real snow, fantastic views and bundles of fun. Situated at high altitudes, this picturesque destination is famous for its extensive glacier terrains, making the resort ideal for skiing enthusiasts during summer holidays.
The centrepiece in Les Deux Alpes is the Glacier de Mont-de-Lans, also called Mont-de-Lans Glacier. Located at an impressive altitude of 3,600 meters, skiing opportunities begin as early as late June and continue through the summer months, typically until late August or early September.
The Mont-de-Lans Glacier offers access to approximately 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) of ski slopes. Les Deux Alpes has it all for experts seeking challenging terrain. You’ll be treated to panoramic views as you carve down the slopes. Seeing majestic peaks and serene alpine landscapes adds more magic to your skiing experience.
The high-altitude ensures pristine, powdery snow even during summer ski season. This altitude also contributes to Les Deux Alpes’ reputation as reliable for snow sports enthusiasts. Les Deux Alpes offers excellent terrain for piste skiers seeking adventure beyond the groomed runs, and they have invested in lift systems and facilities to enhance the skiing experience. Efficient lifts whisk everyone up the mountain, minimizing wait times.
4: Summer Glacier Skiing in Alpe d’Huez, France
Enjoy the season skiing on the Pic Blanc glacier in France. This exhilarating and unique experience occurs in Alpe d’Huez ski resort, specifically on Glacier de Sarenne. Pic Blanc, near Alpe d’Huez, is accessible via the Pic Blanc cable car, which transports skiers to approximately 3,330 meters. Expect natural snowfall from early summer (June) through late summer (September). This extended season makes it an attractive destination for summer skiing in Europe.
From comprehensive, gentle slopes to more challenging runs and off-piste areas, the high elevation ensures that snow conditions remain reliable, even during warmer summer months. Skiers can enjoy well-preserved snow that offers enjoyable skiing experiences.
Pic Blanc offers awe-inspiring panoramic views, including iconic peaks like Mont Blanc. The stunning vistas add an extra layer of enjoyment to your skiing adventure. Pic Blanc in Alpe d’Huez is an extraordinary experience that allows you to enjoy the thrill of skiing in high-altitude environments. With its winter holiday and summer season, abundant terrain, and breathtaking vistas, Pic Blanc easily attracts skiing enthusiasts seeking an unforgettable alpine adventure. The closest airport to Alpe d-huez is Grenoble. (More about Alpe d’Huez.)
5: Challenging Pistes in Engelberg in Switzerland
Mount Titlis, in the Swiss Alps, is home to Titlis Glacier, a popular destination with deep powder and snow sports. Titlis Glacier on Mount Titlis belongs to the Uri Alps in Switzerland. It’s in the Engelberg region, not far from Engelberg town, and is easily reached from Zurich and other Swiss cities. The glacier typically operates for skiing from October to May, providing an extended winter sports season.
Visitors can take cable cars and gondolas from Engelberg to reach the Titlis Glacier. The rotating cable car, “Titlis Rotair,” offers panoramic views. Titlis Glacier is dependable for winter sports enthusiasts, even during the early and late parts. While skiing or snowboarding, expect excellent views, including nearby peaks and pristine alpine landscapes. The scenery alone is worth the visit. Mount Titlis also boasts the “Titlis Glacier Cave,” with ice sculptures and tunnels.
Besides skiing, visitors to Mount Titlis can engage in other activities like snowshoeing, winter hiking, cross-country skiing and sightseeing. The area is a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The Titlis Glacier on Mount Titlis in Switzerland offers fantastic opportunities, breathtaking views, and various activities for visitors of all ages in the Swiss Alps.
6: European Summer Seasons in Chamonix, France
Les Grands Montets, near Argentière in Chamonix Valley, offers season skiing throughout winter on both groomed slopes and off-piste terrain. It’s popular with expert skiers due to its challenging runs, and ski instructors are available.
The top reaches approximately 3,275 meters. This high altitude contributes to good snow conditions. Les Grands Montets offers steep descents, wide open slopes, and narrow couloirs. There is also off-piste skiing for more adventurous experiences. The ski area is serviced by cable cars and chairlifts to transport skiers to higher elevations.
As you ascend and descend the slopes, be treated to panoramic views, including the iconic Mont Blanc. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Les Grands Montets is known for snow conditions, quickly attracting those looking for consistent skiing throughout the winter.
While Les Grands Montets offers varied terrain, it’s renowned for advanced runs. Steep, ungroomed descents and challenging off-piste terrain attract experienced winter sports enthusiasts. Safety is critical; visitors are encouraged to ski responsibly and be aware of unique challenges. Ski patrols and guides are available to assist when needed. (Learn more about Chamonix in France.)
7: Varied Terrain in Val d’Isère for summer skiing
Val d’Isère, in the Espace Killy area of the French Alps, offers plenty of terrain offering excellent conditions, including the Pisaillas Glacier. The famous Pisaillas Glacier, accessible by taking the chairlift and funicular railway from the resort, reaches around 3,300 meters. This high altitude ensures good snow conditions through the winter ski season and summer season.
The terrain includes gentle slopes, intermediate runs, and more challenging options. Pisaillas Glacier attracts those seeking consistent snow throughout the ski season. The area has modern facilities, including a ski school and equipment rental shops. For more adventurous skiing experiences, the Espace Killy skiing region offers off-piste and backcountry skiing opportunities, with experienced guides leading tours.
Val d’Isère often offers summer skiing on Pisaillas Glacier, allowing skiers to enjoy the slopes during the warmer months. With a high-altitude location and diverse terrain, Val d’Isère is also famous for winter sports enthusiasts seeking an exceptional experience in breathtaking alpine settings. (More about Val d’Isere.)
8: Ski Slopes of Kaprun, Austria
Picturesque Kaprun town, in the Zell am See district of Austria, is famous for glacier skiing on Kitzsteinhorn Glacier. The Kitzsteinhorn Glacier is Austria’s premier skiing destination, even during summer. The glacier, at 3,000 meters, ensures snow reliability and allows for skiing throughout the year.
While the ski area operates primarily from autumn to spring, it often offers summer skiing from June to July, making it sought-after for summer skiing. There are slopes for beginners, intermediate runs, and challenging terrain.
Kitzsteinhorn Glacier provides views of the Hohe Tauern Mountain range and scenic alpine landscapes, but also expect numerous off-piste opportunities. After skiing, Kaprun offers vibrant apres-ski scenes with restaurants, and cafes to relax, socialize, and enjoy Austrian hospitality. Whether you visit in winter or summer, the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier offers an unforgettable skiing adventure in stunning mountain settings.
9: Skiable Terrain in Passo Tonale- Italy
The Ghiacciaio Presena, or Presena Glacier, in the Adamello-Presanella Alps in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, is accessible from the town and is part of the larger Adamello Ski area. The glacier, with the summit of the Presanella Peak (Cima Presanella) nearby, rises to over 3,500 meters. Visitors can take the cable car from Ponte di Legno to Passo del Tonale, where they can connect to lifts up the slopes.
The high elevation allows for summer skiing on well-maintained slopes, drawing skiers from various parts of Italy and beyond. It includes intermediate and challenging runs, for advanced skiers. Presena Glacier looks out across the Presanella Peak and Ortler Range, and the natural beauty enhances the European skiing experience.
Like many glaciers worldwide, Ghiacciaio Presena has been affected by climate change and has experienced some degree of retreat. Efforts are made to preserve the glacier, and visitors are encouraged to respect environmental guidelines.
The high-altitude, diverse ski terrain, and stunning Alpine scenery provide an attractive option for skiing enthusiasts looking to extend their season into summer. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skier, the Presena Glacier offers unique alpine experiences.
10: Mountain Peaks and the Stubai Glacier Skiing
Stubai Glacier, or Stubaier Gletscher, is another of Austria’s popular skiing areas. Located in the Stubai Valley in the Tyrol region, not far from the city of Innsbruck, this glacier is easily reached from Innsbruck and other major Tyrolean towns. The glacier boasts a high elevation, with skiing possible up to 3,200 meters (10,499 feet). This elevation ensures an extended ski season from June to July, so visitors enjoy skiing during warmer months.
The Stubai Glacier features a renowned terrain park called the “Stubai Zoo.” This park offers features, including jumps, rails, and obstacles, making it a favourite destination for freestyle enthusiasts. The ski area, equipped with modern cable cars and lifts, also provides views of nearby peaks such as the Zuckerhütl and Wildspitze. In addition to skiing, Stubai Glacier offers summer activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and sightseeing. The Stubai Gondola also operates in summer for non-skiers to enjoy panoramic views.
11: Hintertux Glacier – Open 365 Days
Often called Hintertuxer Gletscher and sitting in Zillertal Valley in the Tyrol region, the Hintertux Glacier is reached from popular nearby destinations like Mayrhofen and Innsbruck. The glacier, renowned for its high elevation, sits at 3,250 meters (10,663 feet) and ensures excellent year-round skiing.The terrain includes well-groomed slopes, off-piste areas, and challenging descents. From views of the Zillertal Alps and majestic peaks like the Olperer and Gefrorene-Wand-Spitzen, the high altitude and consistent snowfall make it reliable for snow sports in Austria.
Dachstein Glacier, or Dachsteingletscher in German, is a renowned destination in the Austrian Alps, specifically in the Dachstein massif. This glacier near Ramsau am Dachstein is accessible from major Austrian cities like Salzburg and Graz. The glacier boasts a high elevation, with skiing possible at 2,700 meters (8,858 feet) during summer. From gentle slopes for beginners to challenging descents for advanced riders, Dachstein Glacier gives off stunning views of nearby peaks like the Dachstein and Hoher Gjaidstein. The lift system includes 1 Cable Car, 1 Double Seat chairlift, and 3 Tow Lifts. (Check skiing conditions before visiting. Sometimes, the other attractions still open but skiing is not possible.)
13: Val Senales
Val Senales, or Schnalstal in German, is home to Schnalstal Glacier, one of Italy’s few glacier skiing areas. The glacier, at 3,200 meters (10,500 feet), operates during the traditional ski season from autumn to spring but also offers summer skiing from June to July. This makes it an attractive destination for summer skiing.. Val Senales is accessible by car, and there are convenient transportation options from nearby towns and cities in South Tyrol, such as Merano and Bolzano. A fun fact to know is that this is where Ötzi the ice-man, lay in the ice for 5300 years.
14: Skiing around Val Thorens
Val Thorens, a French Alps ski resort, belongs to the expansive Three Valleys ski area. While Val Thorens doesn’t sit on a glacier, it offers easy access to high-altitude skiing. The Three Valleys ski area also includes nearby resorts like Les Menuires, Courchevel, and Meribel.
The Three Valleys area offers access to several glaciers, including Glacier de la Chavière, near Val Thorens. It can be reached by taking lifts and cable cars from the resort, including the Cime de Caron cable car. Glacier de la Chavière and other glaciers in the Three Valleys area sit at high altitudes, exceeding 3,000 meters (approximately 9,800 feet). Enjoy off-piste skiing as well as slopes for beginners and advanced skiers.
Due to high altitudes, they are snow-sure, making them dependable destinations. The Three Valleys area offers ski passes that allow access to multiple resorts and ski areas.. The nearby Glacier de la Chavière and other glaciers offer ski terrain and stunning views, making the Three Valleys region famous for French Alp glacier skiing experiences.
Also About Skiing in Europe
Popular Ski Foods: Dining on alpine food highlights the captivating mountain regions of Europe. From traditional Alpine dishes to delicious regional eats, the French Alps region is home to mouth-watering cuisine, that should be on your list of dishes to try.
Closest Ski Resorts to Geneva Airport: When purchasing a ski property, many clients often look at the closest resorts to Geneva Airport, and we understand why. Geneva Airport, a smooth-operating air travel hub hosting flights worldwide, is a gateway to Swiss and French ski resorts. Additionally, ski property owners do not want a lengthy transfer after their flight and would much prefer to get there and onto the ski slopes themselves in next to no time.