With ski season revving up and thoughts turning to getting away for some downhill action, the travel experts at Cheapflights have selected their favourite resorts from around the world for skiers of every skill. From Killington’s approachable slopes to Red Mountain’s death-defying vertical terrain, we’ve categorized our snow-covered choices by experience level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Whether you’re a nervous novice or a mogul master, our list of the top 10 ski resorts around the world has a mountain destination for you.
Best for beginners
Located between Oslo and Bergen, Geilo is known as one of the most “snow secure” destinations in Norway. The charming mountain village, which dates back to the latter years of the 19th century, is perfect for those who have never skied before. Among Geilo’s 39 slopes are a plethora of beginner and intermediate runs. For variety, there are plenty of other winter sports such as snowshoeing, glacier hiking, dog-sledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides and guided nature adventures.
Killington, Vermont, United States
When the Green Mountains turn white, it’s time to revel in Killington’s large, excellent, nursery slopes. Killington has that breezy “you can do it” vibe that’s crucial for fledgling skiers. Of Killington’s 140 trails, there’s a fairly even spread of levels. Trails deemed easy account for 34 percent with intermediate and advanced accounting for the remaining two thirds, giving you something to aim toward on successive trips.
Snow is guaranteed at Obergurgl. In fact, it has been snowing on Austria‘s highest village (elevation of almost 2,000 metres) since August. At this charming Alpine resort, there are 16 gentle slopes for the absolute beginner. The skiing area lies across two separate peaks and the views of the local glaciers are – like Austria’s après-ski reputation – second to none.
Best for intermediates
La Plagne/Les Arcs, France
Or, as we like to call it, Paradise. It’s Paradiski really, the areas of Les Arcs, Peisey-Vallandry and La Plagne in the Tarentaise Valley in the heart of the French Alps. There’s more than enough here for the intermediate skier with 79 red runs (although beginners will be kept busy – and upright hopefully – with 152 blue runs). This heavenly space is a hub of world-class skiing. The best-known neighbour systems are Espace Killy (Val d’Isère and Tignes) and Les Trois Vallées (Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens). The Vanoise Express double-decker cable car (a better mode of transport we have yet to see) links La Plagne and Les Arcs.
The villages of Saalbach and Hinterglemm are located at the heart of a heart stoppingly beautiful ring of peaks that soar to 2,000 metres. A sophisticated lift system links the two and makes it very easy to get to the snow, all 200 kilometres or so of it. About 100 kilometres are intermediate, approximately 100 kilometres are beginner and the remainder are difficult. Saalbach attracts a younger crowd and events such as Rave on Snow and Roxy Snow Pro punctuate the calendar. Get on the slopes early because après-ski starts about 4pm.
Lake Louise Mountain Resort, Alberta, Canada
Banff National Park turns into a Winter Wonderland this time of year when skiers come in search of champagne powder. The resort sits between the lofty peaks of Mount Richardson, Ptarmigan Peak, Pika Peak and Redoubt Mountain. Oh, and did we mention that Banff National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the Birthplace of Skiing in Canada? It is. It’s also considered to be the world’s most scenic ski area. Plaudits aside, Lake Louise’s unique design means that skiers of all abilities share the resort. For an inter-generational family or group trip, that mix is hard to beat.
Best for advanced
Red Mountain, British Columbia, Canada
Deep in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia lies Red Mountain, a resort with backwoods charm that is praised by Ski Canada Magazine and Frommer’s as among the best resorts in North America. It has beginner slopes, but this is a resort for the grown-ups. Ski Canada Magazine rated it best for “Steeps,” “Powder” and “Trees.” There are nearly 90 runs stretched across two mountains; 1,700 skiable acres and 880 metres of vertical terrain. Red will keep you occupied for days.
La Grave, France
A sobering name for a challenging ski area. This is not a place for the faint-hearted as La Grave has taken lives and commands great respect. The vertical drop is a gobsmacking 2,100 metres and there are massive ungroomed spaces. It’s a world away from “civilized” ski resorts – the shops stock items most skiers will not have considered such as avalanche probes, Avalungs and airbags. La Grave is not one to be attempted without a guide. But, when you descend, feeling very small indeed is priceless.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, United States
In the Grand Tetons, the adrenaline junkies will find their piece of heaven. Two mountains – Rendezvous and Apres Vous – serve up the big, big skiing. Most of the advanced trails line the slopes of Rendezvous Mountain while Apres Vous Mountain hosts the beginners and intermediates. The iconic slope is Corbet’s Couloir, a high entry on the “things to do before you die” list. Intrepid skiers enjoy free falling onto a 55-degree slope. Should you not turn hard right immediately, you’ll face plant onto rock. Turn hard right immediately and, after two fast turns, you’ll exit down a 45-degree slope. And then plan your next go…
Val d’Isère, France
Without a doubt, the best skiing – for all levels – is to be found at Val d’Isère. This French resort is high, high up in the Espace Killy, a snowy locale that includes Tignes too. Its features are impeccable: 300 kilometres of piste, 10,000 hectares of off-piste, two glaciers, a vertical drop of almost 10,560 metres and 100 lifts that means there is rarely any lines or congestion. Due to its topography, Val d’Isère is snow-sure, getting early snow and occasionally continuing well into May.
(Image: Leo-Seta used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)