Austria: St. Anton am Arlberg
While Seefeld in Austria is often considered the cross-country skiing capital of Europe (with heavy competition from the Nordics), it’s St. Anton am Arlberg in the Tyrolean Alps that has arguably the best skiing on the continent (it’s also called the “cradle of alpine skiing,” since this region’s slopes helped define the sport). With 189 miles of groomed trails and 124 miles of steep off-piste routes for more advanced athletes, there’s plenty to keep you busy here. It’s won too many awards to ignore: This resort should be at the top of your list.
Where to stay: Head to Himmlhof for quintessential mountain lodging (at 4-star standards).
A perfect winter day trip from Oslo, Norefjell has ski trails as high as 3,900 feet and boasts Europe’s greatest vertical drop at 3,300 feet—all the way down to the beautiful fjords below. And with more than 125 miles of backwoods trails, it’s a must for any cross-country skier.
Where to stay: Norefjell Ski & Spa recently won Norway’s Best Ski Hotel award, and it even has an ice rink if you want a break from the slopes.
With snow guaranteed until mid May, Åre (pronounced ‘aura’) has one of the longest ski seasons in the world. Its largest vertical drop (2,920 feet) falls just shy of Norefjell’s 3,300, but its manicured routes extend higher than its Norwegian counterpart (4,180 feet high compared to 3,900 feet at Norefjell). With 90 slopes and night skiing from December through March, Åre offers a thrilling experience for all kinds of skiers and riders.
Where to stay: Cozy up in the village center at Hotel Åregården, Åre’s oldest, most prestigious hotel. It has incomparable lake and mountain views, three restaurants to keep you well-fed, and a nightclub to keep you entertained.
Winter wonderland Rukatunturi (Ruka for short) has snow 200 days out of the year—sometimes extending into June. This Lapland resort is famous for its snow-making cannons that make this long season possible. Ruka uses over a hundred different types of cannons, and together they can produce as much as 44,000 cubic feet of snow per hour, allowing them to open the resort a single day after production. While the summit is just 1,608 feet, Ruka also offers 105 miles of cross country skiing trails and snowmobile excursions, too.
Where to stay: Ruka Peak, with its luxurious villas, hot tub with a killer vantage point, and fireside dining. This is the epitome of Lapland comfort.
Italy: Cortina d’Ampezzo
Winding through 75 miles of snowy Dolomite bliss, Cortina d’Ampezzo’s routes extend some 9,600 feet above sea level. The storybook resort, nicknamed “Snow Disneyland,” is a few hours north of Venice by train and bus, or a slightly shorter trip from Innsbruck, Austria, headed south. It’s a notable stop on the Women’s World Cup skiing circuit, and it’s also known for being less pretentious than other resorts in this part of the world—even though it hosts plenty of A-list visitors.
Where to stay: Marriott’s Cristallo, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa is a 5-star favorite in the Dolomites.
With five resorts in its corner, the French Alps town of Chamonix is one of the world’s most popular skiing destinations. Don’t miss the famous Vallée Blanche trail, which is a 12.5-mile route gliding over majestic glaciers. Chamonix has 10 different ski areas, so you can venture someplace new each day.
Where to stay: Hôtel Hameau Albert 1er is a comprehensive retreat for all the senses (including its Michelin 2-star restaurant, Albert 1er).
Switzerland: St. Moritz
Visitors to sunny St. Moritz stay in one of a trio of villages—trendy Dorf, the Italian-influenced Celerina, and the sleepy St. Moritz Bad—all of which connect to Corviglia, the resort’s primary skiing destination. The resort has 217 miles of groomed skiing at altitudes nearly two miles into the sky, and when the nearby lake freezes over, guests can go ice skating or try curling.
Where to stay: Kulm Hotel, where you’ll be high on 5-star luxury all weekend. Make sure to take advantage of their spa-inclusive ski-and-stay package.
The 9,717-foot high Zugspitze mountain juts into the sky. It’s just an hour drive south of Munich. With nearly 200 miles of trails, the tallest peak in Germany has plenty of terrain on offer. After you crush the super pipe, power through some cross country trails; ski down the mountain’s glacier; or head to the nearby towns of Garmisch and Partenkirche to cozy up with a beer.
Where to stay: Try Das Gracek for luxury, seclusion, and panoramic views from many of its rooms.
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