Posted on 01 November 2023
Advanced skiers are always eager to know which country has the best ski resorts, slopes and conditions. They analyse every ski destination to discover whether it can deliver excellence for ski lifts, varied terrain, off-piste skiing, and ability levels. Well, one hot spot ranks year after year as the disputed king.
Indeed, France is the country with the best skiing. Even outranking the favourite Whistler resort in British Columbia. Experienced skiers and professional ski organisations often rank the ski resorts and ski areas in this vibrant destination of Europe as unbeatable for that ideal winter thrill. But let’s look more in-depth at France and other places to discover what puts them on the winning podium for expert skiers and all experience levels.
Countries with the Best Ski
Skiing Destinations in France
The ski slopes of Val D’Isère make this one of the world’s most famous ski resorts. At 1,850 meters, Val D’Isère village boasts breathtaking mountain scenery and access to the exhilarating and diverse ski terrain. Chamonix and Tignes are known for off-piste skiing, and with a guide, whizz down the Vallee Blanche, but the Portes Du Soleil ski area and the blue slopes also rank highly, bringing in people from around the world.
Val Thorens ranks as Europe’s highest ski resort at 2300 meters. France also ranks highly for family-friendly resorts thanks to the official tourism accreditation “Famille Plus Montagne and Club Piou Piou that look after youngsters on the slopes. Intermediate skiers love Chatel, while Morzine is great for recreational skiers. Forbes magazine also highly ranks Serre Chevalier.
Advanced Challenges in Canada
Whistler Blackcomb ranks as Canada’s largest resort, with vast terrain, excellent snow conditions, and a vibrant village with numerous dining and entertainment options. Other popular ski resorts include Lake Louise, famous for breathtaking settings in Banff National Park, offering world-class skiing and stunning views of Lake Louise and surrounding mountains.
Banff serves as a gateway to three major ski areas, including Sunshine Village, Norquay, and Lake Louise, all offering fantastic skiing and beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Additionally, Quebec and Ontario are known for their black slopes. Skiing in Canada is thrilling, with diverse terrain, beginner slopes, lift systems and ample days of sunshine.
Steep Slopes in Bulgaria
Bulgaria offers several resorts in the beautiful Balkan Mountains. Some popular ski resorts in Bulgaria include Bansko, the largest and most well-known resort, featuring modern facilities, a charming old town, and a wide variety of ski and snowboard terrain. Borovets is ideal for families and beginners, with gentle slopes and easy access from Sofia.
Pamporovo, another family-friendly resort, offers sunny weather and well-groomed slopes. Additionally, Bulgarian resorts are budget-friendly compared to well-established alpine resorts in Western Europe. They provide several skiing opportunities, stunning mountain scenery, and a growing infrastructure, making this one of the best countries for skiing.
Challenging Terrain in America
Forbes Magazine often ranks American resorts, especially Vali ski resort in North America, which made their top ten list. Additionally, they ranked Big Sky in North America for the 126 kilometres of Black Slope. Park City in Utah also wins favour thanks to the 7300 acres of skiable terrain that sees significant snowfall every winter. Other popular ski resorts include Aspen, which earns fame for four unique mountains – Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands, and Buttermilk – catering to skiers of all levels and offering many days of sunshine.
The Aspen Highlands offers serene experiences with the Highland Bowl, offering access to pristine backcountry settings for those who crave adventure beyond the groomed trails. Also consider Jackson Hole, renowned for challenging slopes, deep powder, and stunning backcountry terrain, making it one of the favourite countries for skiing for advanced skiers.
Swiss Ski Resorts – Queen of Europe
While France might be the king of Europe, Switzerland is the queen. Switzerland easily ranks as an excellent country for skiing because of Zermatt. This destination has 2133 metres of vertical drop and 200 miles of skiable terrain. However, other popular ski resorts for alpine skiing include Verbier, which earns fame for off-piste skiing and offers varied terrain, and the Davos-Klosters Swiss resorts for all skill levels.
Davos hosts the annual World Economic Forum, while quiet Klosters offers traditional alpine vibes on every corner. Indeed, every alpine skier ranks Switzerland for lift access, piste challenges, and runs. Also look at the Bernese Oberland ski area for an excellent choice of piste runs, advanced slopes, freeride terrain, and modern lifts.
- Saas-fee ski resort in the Swiss Alps testifies to the sheer majesty of nature.
- Villars in Switzerland is a typical Swiss ski resort with breathtaking views, and pristine lakes.
Austrian Ski Resorts
Still in Europe, Austria is in the limelight with 7322 kilometres of slopes and 2629 ski lifts. For off-piste skiing, St Anton, Fieberbrunn, Ischgl, Kaprun, Lech, Mayrhofen, Obergurgl, and Kitzbuhel consistently rank both in terms of acres of terrain, mountain hut access and skill levels, including intermediate skiers.
Whether you are searching for challenging slopes, park skiing, or one-day lift tickets, skiing in Austria harmoniously blends timeless alpine traditions and world-class winter sports, offering an exhilarating experience for all. With stunning mountain landscapes, well-groomed slopes, and welcoming alpine villages, head to Harakiri if you truly want to test yourself on black slopes. Offering 1.5 kilometres of slopes, the area has a vertical drop of 375 meters.
Italian Ski Resorts
This is where Italy comes into the limelight of countries for skiing, with the Dolomiti super ski area, which is home to Cortina Resort and 11 others. Skiers enjoy 1200 kilometres of slopes, and the Dolomiti excellent ski pass is valuable in Europe. For off-piste slopes, Alagna belongs to the Monterosa Ski area, one of Europe’s largest ski areas, and offers access to many slopes, from gentle beginner runs to challenging cross-country skiing and backcountry terrain.
Val Gardena Alpine Valley is divided into three main villages: Ortisei (St. Ulrich), Selva di Val Gardena (Wolkenstein), and Santa Cristina (St. Christina), each with a unique character and ambience. Visitors to Val Gardena enjoy world-class skiing alongside après-ski scenes, delightful mountain cuisine, and winter activities such as snowshoeing, ice skating, and cross-country skiing.
See the Northern Lights in Finland
Skiing in Finland offers opportunities to embrace the Arctic wilderness’s pristine and serene beauty. Finland’s resorts, such as Levi, Ruka, and Ylläs, provide excellent cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities, snowboarding, and other winter activities. What sets Finnish skiing apart is the chance to explore the enchanting Lapland region, where you can ski under the mesmerising Northern Lights.
Finland’s well-maintained trails, excellent lifts, peaceful forests, and frozen lakes create a serene atmosphere catering to beginners and experienced skiers looking for a challenge. With cosy log cabins, traditional saunas, and the chance to meet Santa Claus, a skiing trip to Finland offers an unforgettable blend of winter adventure and Arctic charm.
Hot Springs and Powder Skiing in Japan
Niseko Village, a renowned ski resort on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, is one of four interconnected areas comprising the Niseko United, along with Grand Hirafu, Annupuri, and Hanazono. Niseko Village is celebrated for exceptional powder snow and backcountry skiing. The resort offers various terrain, from groomed runs for beginners to challenging off-piste and tree skiing for advanced riders.
Niseko Village also boasts a charming alpine village with various accommodations, restaurants, and cultural experiences, making this resort a well-rounded winter destination. The proximity to renowned hot springs adds to the appeal, providing soothing apres-ski experiences.
Skiing in the Country of Norway
Skiing in Norway is deeply rooted in the country’s culture and natural beauty. With pristine landscapes, Norway offers several skiing opportunities, including downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and backcountry adventures. The country’s mountainous regions, like the Norwegian Fjords and Scandinavian Mountains, provide stunning backdrops. Some renowned ski destinations in Norway include Trysil, Hemsedal, and Geilo, which offer well-groomed slopes, modern infrastructure, and excellent skiing conditions.
Cross-country skiing, a particularly cherished pastime in Norway, provides an extensive network of well-marked trails. The Norwegian concept of “friluftsliv” or “open-air living” encourages people to embrace the outdoors. The country’s blend of natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere makes Norway a top choice for those seeking an authentic and tranquil winter sports experience in Scandinavia.
World’s Top Ski Areas
So, we have established that France is one of the best countries for skiing, but to help you choose your preferred resort, narrow down into the best ski areas: the Three Valleys, Portes Du Soleil, Paradiski and Espace Killy.
Three Valleys: Beyond the sheer size and various runs, the Three Valleys region also boasts a rich alpine culture and an array of charming mountain villages. Courchevel offers luxury and elegance, while Meribel has a cosy, traditional ambience. Val Thorens, Europe’s highest resort, promises excellent snow conditions and a vibrant apres-ski scene. Additionally, the area’s numerous off-piste and backcountry opportunities are playgrounds for expert skiers. Whether you’re carving down perfectly groomed slopes, savouring world-class cuisine in alpine chalets, or enjoying the stunning views from the highest peaks, the Three Valleys consistently ranks among the world’s top ski destinations.
Portes Du Soleil: Portes du Soleil is a sprawling ski area straddling the French-Swiss border in the Alps, encompassing 12 resorts, including Avoriaz, Morzine, Les Gets, and Champéry. Offering 600 kilometres of interconnected slopes, skiers are spoiled for choice with groomed pistes, challenging off-piste terrain, and snow parks and halfpipes catering to all skill levels. The unique aspect is the ability to ski or snowboard between France and Switzerland, experiencing distinct cultures and cuisines in a single day of exploration.
Paradiski: Paradiski, in the French Alps, offers exceptional winter sports and black slopes in the Tarentaise Valley of the Savoie region. This extensive ski domain links three significant resorts: Les Arcs, La Plagne, and Peisey-Vallandry, creating a massive interconnected ski area. With over 425 kilometres of slopes, Paradiski provides a diverse and extensive terrain for skiers of all levels. Paradiski is celebrated for reliable snow conditions, modern lift infrastructure, and the Vanoise Express cable car, which connects the Les Arcs and La Plagne sectors.
Espace Killy Ski Area: Espace Killy, named after the legendary French skier Jean-Claude Killy, sits in the Tarentaise Valley of the French Alps. Comprising the internationally renowned resorts of Val d’Isère and Tignes, Espace Killy offers diverse skiing and snowboarding experiences. With over 300 kilometres of groomed slopes, there is something for everyone, from gentle runs for beginners to challenging off-piste terrain, advanced slopes and thrilling freeride opportunities for advanced skiers.
The region’s high-altitude skiing on the Grande Motte glacier also allows for a more extended season than many other European areas. The authentic alpine villages of Val d’Isère and Tignes offer excellent après-ski scenes, mixed mountain cuisine, and various cultural events. Espace Killy has hosted prestigious events such as the Winter Olympics, making the area a must-visit destination for unforgettable alpine adventures in the French Alps.
More About Skiing
Did you know that thanks to the ambition of ski resorts to become year-round tourist destinations, more and more people are now seeking to buy and own their own ski property. Investing in ski property offers a unique blend of lifestyle and financial advantages. Beyond the thrill of having direct access to world-class ski resorts, owning a ski property can be a smart financial move.
These properties often appreciate over time, serving as a valuable asset, and can generate rental income during peak seasons, helping to offset ownership costs. Call us today if you would like to find out more, or browse our portfolio of ski properties here. Alternatively, if you want to know more about the best countries for ski, see our blog here.