A ski trip presents the opportunity to trade your usual holiday surroundings of cerulean waters and powder-soft sands for snowy slopes and alpine trees. Europe is renowned for having some of the most popular ski destinations in the world including France, Switzerland, and Italy, but there are also some hidden and lesser-known gems waiting to be discovered in Spain, Finland, Sweden and even Bulgaria. With so much choice, and all with close proximity to the UK you can easily spend a long weekends or extended breaks exploring spectacular mountains and snow-white slopes without ever getting bored. Whether you consider yourself a pro or this is your first time trying out a pair of skis or snowboard, our expert team can help you plan a tailor-made holiday for you and your travelling party.
Here are 16 of our top tips for booking a European ski break:
1. When it comes to Italy, Austria, France and Switzerland the ski season tends to start in December and end at the latest in mid-April, so bear that in mind when booking your next ski break. Travelling further north to Finland or Sweden can extend the season from October to May.
2. Europe has resorts for all levels of ski ability. France is a popular go-to destination for beginners. Whether you decide to jet down the pistes of Courcheval, Meribel or Val Thorens, there are plenty of green and blue slopes which are the best to build your confidence. Experts will find their new stomping ground in Switzerland thanks to its steep mountains and abundance of black and red runs while Italy offers a mixture of pistes for intermediates or groups that have different levels of ability.
For a varied ski holiday with a mix of both hilly slopes and snow parks for skiing and snowboarding as well as many cross-country routes for all abilities check out Finland and Sweden. Resorts in these destinations are far less touristy and will provide visitors will a much more private and escapist experience. Plus, these are some of the best places in the world to spot the Northern Lights, which appear almost every other night during the ski season - presenting an excellent opportunity to tick off two bucket list items in one trip!
3. In terms of hotels, it’s always best to stay near a ski lift to guarantee you’re never too far from all the action. For beginners, opt for a hotel that’s close to the bottom of the mountain. Many of these properties have access to exclusive car services that can take either yourself, your equipment or both back from the slopes. First-timers are often caught off guard at just how heavy some of the equipment can be.
4. Getting involved in après-ski is one of our top recommendations. From La Rogue Restaurant & Après-Ski and Le Farinet Verbier SA in Verbier to The Mooserwirt and Krazy Kanguruh in Austria, there is some amazing nightlife experiences across many popular resorts. Recently Joe Head from Winged Boots went to Folie Douche in Meribel for après-ski and had an amazing time, you can read more about his time away here.
5. W Verbier is an amazing hotel for skiers who are after a luxury getaway as it’s the only ski-in, ski-out resort in the area. It also has a relatively short transfer time from the airport compared to other Verbier hotels which makes it fab for a short weekend break. There’s a concierge service that can organise fantastic ski activities and more, and the après-ski facilities are wonderful. If that wasn’t enough, there are also six restaurants and bars, a spa and chalet-style accommodation.
6. Another top tip is to pre-book as much as you can, including lessons, equipment hire and ski passes. No matter your destination or how many ski school options there are, things often get booked up well in advance - especially in the school holidays. To avoid disappointment, secure lessons at least a couple of months prior to travelling and when it comes to hiring equipment be sure to research the best stores in the area. If you are booking with Winged Boots, you are in luck as we are more than happy to assist with all arrangements on your behalf.
7. Listen to the experts. Even if you’ve been skiing before, it is wise to always take the advice of the ski experts whether that be an instructor or equipment professional. Even if you think your boots are too tight, trust me, they’re probably not and if they’re loose, your bruised shins will soon let you know.
8. Watch your alcohol consumption. Yes, you’re on holiday and après-ski is an awesome staple for every ski holiday, however, due to the change in altitude alcohol can affect you in ways it otherwise wouldn’t back home. So make sure you pace yourself.
9. While you may think that when you’re going skiing you have to wear the thickest coat and trousers known to man, it’s so crucial to layer. This is exceptionally important in March and April when the sun can be warm even though you’re surrounded by snow. Wearing sun-protection is also an absolute must as snow reflects UV rays and causes a higher risk of sun burn.
10. Invest in good quality ski googles. You can get blinded from the flying snow even when you’re going as slow as 6mph. If you’re on the hunt for some fantastic ski googles, you can’t go wrong with Oakley. Founded in 1975, it has a great reputation, and its products deliver when it comes to performance thanks to the high-tech science involved.
11. When booking your ski break the amount of snow fall is a very important factor. While digging your edges into a freshly laid carpet of crisp snow is tremendously satisfying, skiing while the snow is falling can decrease visibility which makes navigation down the slopes tricky at times. Our top tip would be to visit Europe later in the season, towards March and April. There are less snowstorms at this time and more clear and sunny days to enjoy.
12. Bring your own boots. Getting a pair from a hire store is great for beginners but if you’re a regular or know you’ll become one, it can take a few days to get them perfectly adjusted. Having your own allows you to turn up confident and raring to go with boots that you know are going to work for you. Skis are something you can purchase but it’s not necessary. Renting skis from a hire store mean you can keep up to date with the latest technology and design year-on-year, and they’ll be prepped and adjusted in store for you personally. Your ski ability is taken into consideration, too.
13. Stay in catered accommodation. While during your holiday you may be happy to go for meals and make the most of après-ski, however, some nights you might be tired from your day of activity on the slopes and want to take the easy option. There are some incredible catered chalet options and hotels with amazing restaurants that will give you a true taste of both local and international cuisine.
14. Carry a snack in your pocket. When hunger hits on the side of a mountain you don’t want to be miles away from the nearest hillside restaurant or café. Avoid getting hangry by having a sugary snack or chocolate bar to tide you over and keep energy levels up.
15. Stay hydrated. With the combination of afternoon après and days of long activity, don’t underestimate the amount of water you will need to keep your levels topped up.
16. Transfer times are incredibly important when booking a ski getaway, especially if you’re only going for a few days. Choose a resort that’s too far away from the airport and you might spend most of your time travelling to your destination instead of skiing. Anywhere from one to two-and-a-half hours is standard when it comes to ski transfers in Europe. Speak to the team at Winged Boots about your wish list and we can make sure you don’t miss out on any time on the slopes.
This button will take you to a short form where we'll ask about your destination and preferences. If you don't like filling in forms simply give us a call on 0203 816 0985 and we'll be happy to help you.Let's Plan Your Trip
Join our email to receive exclusive offers and airline sales direct to your inbox. Unsubscribe anytime (but why would you want to?)